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Aluminum-alloy body Ford F-150s rolling off the Claycomo assembly line

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CLAYCOMO, Mo. -- The first new aluminum F-150 rolled off the assembly line at the Ford plant on Friday. The company now has more than 7,000 workers in the metro area.

A more than $1-billion investment in the facility is paying off as the latest manufacturing technology is producing new pickup trucks.

An aluminum-alloy body comes off the assembly line every 52 seconds. Five hundred new robots use riveting and structural adhesives to make what Ford calls a tougher, more durable truck.

"Today this facility one of our most advanced in the entire world," said Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of the Americas. "It has one of the largest hourly workforces of any plant in Ford Motor Company's global network, with more than 7,000 employees."

Cameras on the robots take scans to ensure quality standards are met. And 900 new workers allow three shifts to crank out 1,300 new trucks a day.

"As Missourians we are never satisfied with good enough," said Governor Jay Nixon. "We don't want to just be better. We want to be the best. That's what this truck is all about."

The new truck is about 700 pounds lighter than the previous model, but Ford leaders say the military grade aluminum is stronger than steel. Already Ford says sales of the new truck have increased 7 percent in February alone.

Ford hopes to produce 700,000 pickups a year at the Kansas City plant and another in Michigan.